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Yugoslavia: Kostunica Appeals For Extradition Law

Belgrade, 5 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica today joined Serbia's ruling coalition in appealing to the Montenegrins in the Yugoslav government coalition to support a draft law that would permit delivering former President Slobodan Milosevic to an international tribunal for trial on war crimes charges. Kostunica said today that the future of Yugoslavia is at stake.

The Yugoslav government is under international pressure to adopt an amendment that would allow war crimes suspects like Milosevic to be turned over to the UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. The court has indicted Milosevic on multiple charges.

The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, the senior partner in the Yugoslav government, met late last night to discuss the situation after it failed on 3 June to persuade Montenegro's Socialist People's Party (SNP) to agree to the law.

The SNP says that the tribunal is biased and opposes surrendering any Yugoslav citizen to the court. The party argues the issue should not be decided at a federal level, but by the individual republics themselves.

A statement said DOS leaders repeated their position that a single federal law on cooperation with The Hague tribunal is necessary.

The DOS cannot push the law through the federal parliament without SNP consent.

Adopting legislation on cooperation with the UN tribunal is seen as necessary if Yugoslavia is to win U.S. backing at an upcoming international donors conference aimed at raising money for Yugoslavia.

The U.S. said yesterday it has not yet decided whether to participate in the conference.